Making friends through imitation

Source:, photo David M. Jensen
In the human world imitation is used in making social contact. Also capuchin monkeys make use of imitation for this purpose. They prefer someone who imitates them. Italian and American researchers discovered this.
According to behavioural psychologists of the National Institute of Child and Human Development imitation functions as a ‘social glue’.

The capuchins received a light ball with holes in it. Some monkeys put their fingers in the ball, others put it in their mouth. Two researchers sat with every monkey, one of them imitated the monkey, while the other didn’t. They monkeys showed a preference for the researcher that imitated them, also when the balls were removed.
The director of the institute explains why this conclusion is important: ‘The observation that imitation in primates leads to the build-up of an emotional bond can lead to insights into disorders in which imitation and bonding is lacking, such as in certain forms of autism’.

The research was published in Science.
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